Telegraph Cove 

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 What:  CLICK HERE FOR PICTURE STORY: Mamalillaculla

How to cook a Whale come upon dead on shore
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North Vancouver Island Map

Story of my first visit here

Story of second visit

Story of third visit

Story of fourth visit

Letter from Thomas Sewid 2/4/2005

This is in my opinion, the best sea kayaking in the Northwestern United States. I haven't been everywhere surely, but only this place was more interesting than the San Juan's, Gulf Islands, Bunsby Islands, & the Deer Group. The Indian history alone sets it apart. How many places can you go and still see totem poles in there original positions with longhouse remains without going to the Queen Charlotte islands which are much more time consuming to do and cost much more. I have talked to a number of people who have gone to Queen Charlottes and Telegraph Cove and all have preferred the latter. It is only 11 hours from Spokane. I have driven there by myself from Friday morning and been paddling early Saturday, and been back by Sunday night The Mamalillaculla Island is the first place you must visit although there are many camping sites here. Mamalillaculla is a must visit since there is a great man who lives there in the summer named Tom Sewid (Seaweed pronunciation). He gives tours (which are works of art) of the Indian history of the local islands for a modest fee. In full costume he dances and tells mystical stories. Entirely unique each time. The last time I was there, a black bear was eating plums out of a tree only 50 feet off with the branches bowing over with its weight while he told his stories rifle near at hand. All the pictures you see on this page and below are of this one island or on the way to it. You must be very skilled as a sea kayaker before attempting this trip due to strong tides and due to the number of islands (in the hundreds). Season is best June 30 through August 30. This is the highest density of Killer whales in the world during this time. See Robson point for most whale density, but we see them almost every crossing of Blackfish Sound.

 Where:  Call the Mamalillaculla Band office before your trip (604-287-2955) and give the suggested fee which gives you access to the Indian islands for camping. From Spokane, take I90 west all the way to right before Seattle take the 405 Freeway north through Bellevue, Everett, etc I5 continuing north until you roll into the border customs checking at Blaine. Don't take weapons, fruit, or tobacco. Continue north watching for the huge signs indicating a turnoff to Tsawassen and the ferries. Get the ferry schedule by phone or internet ahead so you know if you have to hurry or not. Be an hour ahead normally and 2 hours ahead if there is any Canadian holiday involved. Take the ferry to Nanaimo which many people swear is the nicest place to stay on the island. The whole island is magical. The ferry ride is one of the most fun parts for us. It is 2 hours long, beautiful scenery, and please plan to eat on the ferry as the cafeteria's seem to very good. Drive the only freeway north on the east side of the island all the way up to Telegraph Cove. Pay for parking, kayak launching, and a great breakfast made by a very friendly gal there. Have enough gas to get back to Nanaimo as it gets very primitive service-wise north of Campbell River. By this time, there may be a place next to the Telegraph Cove site that may cater more to the kayak crowd than the fishing crowd. Try that if it is operational yet.

Once you are in the water, have cameras ready for eagles, and whales. Time your paddle with currents so that outflow to Northerly sea is ending by the time you cross the first crossing which is Johnstone strait. A GPS device is highly recommended with a compass to guide you. Use the sea navigation map (available at any map store or have them order it, this map is a must have for doing any paddling here) to enter each point you want to paddle to into your GPS. Let the GPS lead you across the tides which cannot be against you or you will not be able to paddle against them. Cross at the West side of Hanson Island through the confusing Plumper islands. As the tide begins flowing into the islands here you will be pulled into the easterly direction across Blackfish Sound toward Comption Island to the East of Swanson Island. There is a camping site on a beach facing Compton on Swanson, but watch your gear here as there has been some theft problem. Do not camp on the Compton Island as it is leased by kayaking tour groups. Almost any other place is okay as long as you know the name of the Band office person you spoke to and sent your money to. I stay with the guide at Mamalillaculla as he is very friendly, and he will direct you to good campsites since they do not want you camping on Mamalillaculla island due to large bear populations. If the opening at Compton on the east side of the small island is flowing too strong against you, go around the other side of the island. Compton is the entryway that the tribes defended against enemies and it leads you down a narrow corridor of passing one island after another to Mamalillaculla. Once past Compton you are safe from storms and tides until arriving at Mamalillaculla. The distance to Mamalillaculla is almost twenty miles so plan a day of it getting there although it can be fairly easy if you hit the tides right. We've done it in four hours at best.

 Cautions:  Do not attempt this trip without major experience in open sea under non-trivial conditions. Make sure you have paddled in strong tidal currents. This is the hardest crossing that I have found in the sense that there are only 2 times a day that you should start out and then you have to go the right path to make it time out well and then the weather always seems to play into the mix. If you can paddle here, then you can paddle anywhere:)  Waves will only reach about 6 feet in height, but frequent storms will keep you pinned in camp and are too dangerous to paddle in generally. Watch for all types of ships and boats navigating on Johnstone Strait (Whale watchers, fishers, tugs with barges, luxury cruisers, ocean liners, etc.) You must keep an immaculate camp regarding food here as the black bear population is large. They don't seem to bother anyone though generally. I would not venture out in the fog here unless you have every confidence in your GPS unit as there are too many islands. Rules & Law
 List:  Bring a full gear up for camping, including extreme rain gear and tenting. We use Moss stardome as it has not yet leaked in horizontal rain storms. It will storm here in summer or winter.